23 September 2010

The 3D web on mobile devices first?

According to Jani Pirkola, who's co-founded the Intel/Nokia joint Innovation, 
the 3D web will happen on pad-sized mobile devices first. I heard Jani speak at the Virtual World Conference.  The 3D web, he added, will be a paradigm shift. We won't login to closed worlds like we do now with Second Life or Whyville; websites will be 3D places. They'll be augmented by our physical locations. Information can be represented differently too, as we've seen in virtual worlds and apps like these for brain-imaging.

Consider how we'd attend to learning (and teaching) in this new paradigm.

We might first look to the evolution of another new paradigm, 3D immersive environments, for some insights. In 2008, Hew and Cheung (2010) reviewed research of the usefulness of 3D immersive environments in K-16 education, and of the 470 papers they found, only 15 were empirical. The remainder were opinion papers, conceptual papers, lit reviews and non-empirical presentations of projects. The lesson to take ahead is that we need to produce more empirical research. Practitioner-led developments, as we have in virtual worlds are vital but they're not necessarily intended to ask broadly applicable questions.

We might also consider the impact of market-driven opportunities that become our new paradigm. With 3D entertainment and mobile products all the rage, will it become ever more difficult to challenge their influence and substantiate a range of rationale for and dare I say against choices? If colleges are giving iPads to students and faculty in order to experiment with their educational usefulness, who of them would say, at the end of the day, it was a waste of time? Few, if any.

I'm all for new paradigms, if we can bring lessons learned in the old ones with us.

Khe Foon Hew and Wing Sum Cheung (2010) Use of three-dimensional (3-D) immersive virtual worlds in K-12 and higher education settings: A review of the research. British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 41 No 1 2010 33–55